Thursday, March 31, 2005
I love France
Some people have too much time on their hands

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Los Rosales
Los Rosales, my favorite restaurant in Pucallpa has a website!

New Quiz
It has been made aware to me that there was an error in one of the questions on my last quiz regarding the pronunciation of Pucallpa. I can't correct the quiz on the site so I made a new quiz with different questions. It is still about Peru. So click here for your chance at redemption if you failed the last one.

Monday, March 28, 2005
Cajamarca Trip
I thought I would upload some pictures of our trip to Cajamarca (in addition to the ostriches below). We went to Cajamarca, a city in northern Peru, for the long Easter weekend. It was very beautiful with great food (cheese and manjar blanco). We went with 3 other FH volunteers from Lima and had a great time.

The city of Cajamarca

Clockwise from Mark: (Mark, Kristen, Erica, Luke)

A cool pre-colonial canal (more then 500 years old!)

Ostrich Blogging!!
Have you fed your local ostrich today?

I am unilaterally declaring today, March 28, international day of the ostrich. IDO will unite humanity and end all war and poverty...I think.

To celebrate IDO you may want to protest the sale of ostrich meat. Or, you could buy a lovely ostrich leather hand bag.

Friday, March 18, 2005
Basketball Tourney
I need some serious basketball tutelage. I played in a tournament last night and pretty much was a one man turnover machine. I played the first and fourth quarters. The first quarter was terrible. The fourth was much better. We won by 20 so it didn't really matter, but I would like to play a little better. The tournament is every Thursday for the next couple months so I will have a chance to redeem myself. I think I am on one of the best teams which is nice. We have a few really good players.

Also, if you haven't already seen this, you really should. has music so if you are at work you may want to turn your speakers down a bit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Baby Lyndee
We like being here. Don't get me wrong. I loves me some maracuya! But...there are some things we are missing a lot. For example...our niece Lyndee. You will note the slight bruise on her nose. An Olympia thug was hassling her older sister and she decided enough was enough. You should see the other guy!

Quiz for you the loyal reader
I made a quiz about Peru. The questions become increasingly difficult. Check it out

Monday, March 14, 2005
Definition of jackass:
1. A male ass or donkey.
2. A foolish or stupid person; a blockhead: "You've acted like an irrational jackass and it's time you stopped" (Margaret Truman).

I looked up jackass in several dictionaries and could find no mention of Mark Mason. I was certain I was going to be there. You see, I have a habit of making "A foolish or stupid person; a blockhead" out of myself at church. You know how sometimes pastors say something wrong followed by "Amen?!?!" just to make sure everyone is paying attention. Personally I think this practice should be avoided when there are people in the audience who are not native speakers and ALWAYS agree wholeheartedly with the pastor and are also "a male ass or donkey".

So we are in church and singing a song that says "God will change my sorrow into joy" and after the song the pastor says "so God will turn my sorrow into more sorrow and despair, Amen?!?!". A few people weren't paying attention and said Amen. So he repeats it to give those who weren't paying attention a chance to redeem themselves. One or two people say Amen while the rest giggle. Finally a third time he repeats the question followed by an even louder AMEN??!! At this point of course only a great fool would say "Amen" on the third Amen and only "A foolish or stupid person; a blockhead" would actually scream "AMEN!!" from the VERY front row of the church while working the projector.

Yes, I am that person. I yelled AMEN! at the absolute wrong time to the great amusement of everyone around me. Especially the elderly lady behind me who said..."No!!!! God will change my sorrow into joy! Not despair! Joy! Joy! Joy! You jackass!"

Ok, well she didn't say jackass, but she probably thought it...if elderly women think such a word in church.

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Awhile back a bunch of famous economists got together to analyze various proposals to solve global crises such as AIDS, malnutrition, poverty, climate change, etc... The assumption was for a certain amount of money (I believe they chose 50 billion a year), what is the best use of funds. They evaluated the 17 top projects out of many more which were submitted to the conference and ranked those projects. The results were interesting if not surprising. At the top of the list was control of HIV/AIDS which had a return on investment of over 40 (1 Billion spent would lead to over 40 billion in additional savings), followed by a micronutrient project to prevent malnutrition, followed by trade liberalization, followed by the control of malaria. The projects that were considered very poor investments were migration (granting guest-worker visas to the unskilled) and three climate change projects (Kyoto being one of these).

So the next time somebody yells at you about the US not signing off on the Kyoto protocol and say "the real tragedy isn't that the US didn't sign off on Kyoto, it's that we aren't doing more on HIV/AIDS which would yield tremendously better results for much less money."

Check out the website for this conference, called the Copenhagen Consensus.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005
People often ask me about the cultural and societal differences between the US and Peru. I like to think that the process of cultural acclimation is like pealing an onion. There is always another layer of cultural complexity to find and understand.

For example, Tricia was in a meeting yesterday about a fundraising campaign FH is doing in Pucallpa to raise funds for the victims of the tsunami in Asia and Tricia is on the committee to lead this effort in Pucallpa. Last week we had a meeting where many Christian organizations and church pastors attended to kick off the effort and another committee was selected to write a letter to all the churches in Pucallpa to ask them to have an offering on March 20th. So the question is what should be in the letter to all the pastors of the churches to encourage them to have an offering? What would you put in a letter like that? Think about it for a sec before continuing reading. Well if you are like Tricia (and me) you would talk about how many people died in the disaster and include a personal story of a survivor to move the recipient. Then you would talk about how the money was going to be used and how it will be audited and monitored to assuage any fears of impropriety. Here in Pucallpa, which is culturally very different then Lima, the important thing was who was calling for the offering. Instead of talking about the tsunami, you need to list out all the Churches and organizations that were calling for the offering in the letter Seeing this list of pastors and organizations, people would want to become involved. I thought that was very interesting. It is by no means better or worse, just different. But if I was in charge of writing the letter I would have written something completely inappropriate and would not have gotten nearly as good of results.

Every society has a system whether you think about it or not. There are a bazillion little rules that you have to learn in order to work effectively cross-culturally. The great thing about learning in Peru is that the people are so patient and accommodating. But you have to realize that just because something works one way in your culture and it seems logical to you, doesn't mean it is universally correct or logical.

Friday, March 04, 2005
Well we have had a kitten named Fiona visiting our house all hours of the day and evening. It is one crazy kitten. We have been ignoring it and not letting it in the house because I am allergic to cats, but it has been jumping up on the windows and meowing till all hours of the night. We have fed it, but it isn't hungry. I think it is lonely. It's owners arrived home yesterday so hopefully it will go home. I will say one thing about Fiona though...she's got hops.

U.S. Loses Final Ruling on Subsidies for Cotton

Good news!


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